How to Sew a Tailor’s Ham


The tailor’s ham is a tool sewers use for
helping to press curved seams. It’s especially helpful in garment sewing when you need to
press things like princess seams, darts, and collars. It can also be handy in pressing
hard to press areas like lapels and armholes. Making your own tailor’s ham is cheap and
easy. Let’s go ahead and get started. For tools, you’ll need your sewing machine,
scissors, pins and needles, and iron. For supplies, you’ll need all purpose thread
and ⅜ a yard of fabric. For fabric, I recommend drill cloth, found in the utility fabric department,
canvas type fabric, or 100% wool. It needs to be durable, able to handle high heat, breathable,
and have a tight weave. You’ll also need filling to put inside the
tailor’s ham. You can use sawdust, clean sand, or even fabric scraps, again fabric
that can handle high heat. Do not use something like polyester stuffing. For my ham, I’m
going to fill it with pine bedding that you normally use for putting at the bottom of
rabbit or hamster cages. If you want to make one like mine, you can
download our free pattern or you can make your own. From your pattern, cut 2 pieces
of fabric. My pattern needs to be placed on the fold of the fabric. Pin the two fabric pieces, right sides together,
all the way around. Leave a pair of X’d pins about 5” apart on the side of the ham.
We’ll stitch all the way around, but there will be no stitches between the X’s because
this will be our opening. At your sewing machine, stitch a half inch
seam. At the X’s, don’t forget to do your backstitching. If the stitches start to come
out while we’re trying to fill the tailor’s ham, it can make things more difficult. Now it’s time to trim our seams. I’m trimming
to leave about ¼” seam allowance but I won’t trim where my opening is. Also, it’s
a good idea to cut notches in the trimmed area as well.
After trimming, flip the tailor’s ham right side out and then give it a press. Fill the tailor’s ham with your filling
and you want to put in as much filling as you possibly can. In the end, the tailor’s
ham should be a very firm. Lastly I’m going to do a slip stitch in order to close up the opening and seal the tailor’s ham. Now you can use pins to help you close the opening but it is probably going to be difficult. You can see mine kinda looks a little wavy here. That’s fine for now. After I finish doing the slip stitch I am going to massage the tailor’s ham Just to get it to lie a little bit more flat. I folded inside on each side a half inch. So then if I pull this tight you can see I have a folded edge there. I put some thread on my hand needle and I am using a contrasting color so it’s a little bit easier. And I already started by having my thread come out on one side on that folded edge. I’m going to grab a little bit of the folded edge on the other side. And you want to keep your stitches fairly small. Only because, we don’t want to have to worry about our filling coming out later on. So if you keep your stitches small you wont have any gaps later on. So there’s my first stitch, I’m just going to gently pull that. And I’m going to go ahead And go to the opposite side, again I am doing a small stitch. And because I am using red thread. You’ll probably still be able to see it a little bit. So if you use a matching color it is going to be less obvious. So you can see, once I start pulling it you’re not going to see that thread as much. So now I am on this side, so now I am going to go back. To my blue side here. Grab a little bit of the folded side. Basically just zig zagging between the two folded sides until I have the whole thing closed. Here’s the finished tailor’s ham, ready
to be used. By pressing on a curved form, you can help shape your garment and get a
better press. You can also use these same steps to create other helpful pressing tools
such as the tailor’s roll for pressing sleeves or create your own custom shapes. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please
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